Why men need a program of pelvic floor exercises and how a pelvic floor exerciser can help
Why should men do pelvic floor exercises ?
Strong pelvic floor muscles are important for men too. Women have been encouraged to exercise their pelvic floor muscles for decades, but now we understand that it is just as vital for men, and especially for men with specific health issues. Research has found that
- a strong pelvic floor overcomes erectile dysfunction (Uni of Bristol study, 2004)
- a regular program of pelvic floor exercise achieves the same success rate as Viagra (Uni of Bristol study, 2004)
- pelvic floor exercises are a safer and cheaper option than drugs; Viagra is associated with damage to the eyes and vision in a significant number of men using it, but exercises are safe for everyone (May 2005). Medications are much more costly than an exercise program.
- pelvic floor exercise can "increase awareness of sexual sensations and enhance enjoyment" (Impotence Association, UK)
- pelvic floor exercises can bring a dramatic improvement for men who experience dribbling after urinating (Uni of Bristol study, 2005)
- pelvic floor exercises are strongly recommended for men following a prostatectomy. Research has shown that pelvic floor strengthening can improve sexual function and overcome urinary incontinence. Some research shows that self-directed exercise, using verbal and written instructions, can work just as well as intensive physio (Moore and others, 2008), while the latest findings demonstrate that just 12 sessions of electrical stimulation and biofeedback, each of 35 mins duration and starting 7 days after catheter removal resulted in almost all men regaining continence at 6 months (Mariotti and others, 2009). Read more.
How to identify the pelvic floor muscles for men
The first step to be able to do pelvic floor exercises for men effectively is to find and identify the appropriate muscles around the anus and the urethra.
- Start by laying comfortably on your back or side, knees bent with the muscles of your thighs, bottom and stomach relaxed.
- Tighten the ring of muscle around your anus by imagining you are stopping a bowel motion- without squeezing your bottom. Note the difference between the anus ( the sphincter) and the bottom (your buttock muscles). Relax and let go.
- Tighten the muscles around the urethra – imagine you are stopping the flow of urine midstream. Relax and let go.
- Now try to “lift ” the scrotum, pull up inside the pelvis – as if you are walking into the cold ocean! Relax and let go.
- A proper pelvic floor exercise for men or contraction is a combination of all these actions: Squeeze and tighten the anus, stop the flow of urine and lift the scrotum. It can help to think of “lifting the boy bits”.
- Now try the pelvic floor exercise in sitting – sit upright on a firm chair. Repeat the above actions and feel as if you are lifting your anus, scrotum and penis away from the chair. Relax and let go.
- Now do the pelvic floor exercise in standing – the same action of closing or tightening the anus, urethra and lifting the scrotum. Try cupping your scrotum in your hand and “lift” it off your hand – do you feel the pelvic floor muscles tighten?
- Visual feedback can be helpful. When learning pelvic floor muscle exercises for men seeing what happens will help you to learn. Laying on your back or standing – look at what the penis and scrotum do when you contract the pelvic floor : the scrotum should lift slightly and the penis will retract or draw in towards the pubic bone.
How to exercise the pelvic floor muscles
Once you can feel your pelvic floor muscles working, you can attempt to exercise them.
- Tighten and draw in the muscles around the anus and urethra, lifting the scrotum up inside.
- Count how many seconds you can comfortably hold, then release and relax. You should have a definite feeling of ‘letting go’. Over time, gradually increase the hold time to 10 seconds.
- Repeat this up to maximum of 8 to 10 squeezes, resting for 10 seconds after each tightening of the muscles.
- You should follow this by 5 to 10 short, strong squeezes in quick succession.
- You must not squeeze buttocks, thighs or suck in tummy.
Repeat the session of pelvic floor exercises 3 times a day.
Need more help to exercise?
In spite of the guidelines, it's very hard to identify, isolate and exercise pelvic floor muscles without help. Exercise aids and devices provide the little extra help that turns your effort into success, while DVDs and books provide ongoing guidance and support to help you achieve real results.
Exercise devices assist you in strengthening the pelvic floor in two main ways:
- Exercisers can provide "resistance"
This is commonsense. Body builders do not build strong biceps by repeatedly contracting their arms in the air; they do it by using weights or other devices that provide resistance.
- Exercisers can provide feedback that the exercise is being done correctly
Many men and women find it extremely hard to do anal pelvic floor contractions correctly, especially when they first begin, so they benefit from using a device that confirms that the correct muscle is being exercised and that the contraction is being fully held for maximum benefit.
Physiotherapists use such exercise aids and devices to assist in teaching correct exercise techniques, but they are also available for you to use in the privacy of your own home.
Visit our online shop for a unique range of pelvic floor strengthening aids and devices especially for men.
Read more about the specific needs of men facing, or recovering from radical prostatectomy.